If you thought President Donald Trump's encounter with Queen Elizabeth at Windsor Castle last week was awkward, you ain’t see nothin’ yet.
During a historic meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland on Monday, Trump once again did the unexpected: He uh, threw a soccer ball in to wife Melania's lap. No, this isn't fake news.
While at a news conference during which the two political figureheads addressed Russia's meddling in the 2016 U.S. election (Putin denied any interference, despite the fact that on Friday special counsel Robert Mueller indicted 12 Russian agents for the hacking of the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton presidential campaign), Trump praised Russia for hosting the World Cup, which ended on Sunday. “I’d like to congratulate you on a really great World Cup, one of the best ever,” Trump told Putin. “It was beautifully done, so congratulations.”
Shortly after, Putin responded by … literally handing him a soccer ball. “Speaking of football, Mr. President, I give this ball to you and now the balls is in your court," he said. Putin also wished the the U.S. luck ahead of the 2026 World Cup, for which the U.S., Canada and Mexico will share hosting duties.
Looking stupefied, Trump held the ball—posing for a few seconds—before tossing it into Melania’s lap and adding, “That’s right, thank you very much ... That’s very nice. That will go to my son Barron. We have no question. In fact, Melania? Here you go.”
What if Melania hadn’t caught the ball?
Ironically enough, not everything at the World Cup went so smoothly after four members of the Russian punk activist group Pussy Riot, dressed in police uniforms, were arrested for charging the field during the final game on Sunday. On Twitter, the group explained they did so in protest of human rights violations in Russia. (Three members of the group had previously been jailed in Russia "for hooliganism motivated by religious hatred" during various protests; one appealed and was released months later, while the other two were released after almost 2 years.)
But back in Finland, the First Lady wasn’t wearing a look that prepared her for sport. In fact, her outfit for Helsinski consisted of a $3,700 yellow Gucci coat with a matching belt with a butterfly buckle—quite the expensive look for any sort of athletic activity. If you recall, her daughter-in-law Ivanka Trump also has a thing for taking up sport in (what else?) $2,200 Gucci.
Earlier in the day, Finnish President Sauli Niinisto and his wife, poet Jenni Haukio, welcomed the Trumps to their country. For that, Haukio wore a pastel blue Andiata shift dress covered in butterflies. As USA Today points out, butterflies often represent life, change, and hope, and the holly blue butterfly was apparently voted as the national butterfly of Finland in 2017.
Still, Trump didn’t honor the host country by wearing a Finnish designer, which is what first ladies typically do for official state visits abroad. Perhaps she thought the Gucci butterfly was enough of a tribute?